Turkey has inaugurated an international horticultural expo in its southern province of Hatay, a place of cultural heritage, highlighting green development in cities across the world.
Being postponed for one year because of the COVID-19, the Horticulture Expo 2021 is hosted across two sites in Antakya and Iskenderun.
The main theme of this year’s event is “Garden of Civilizations,” and Hatay was home to many ancient civilizations during past centuries.
It is Turkey’s gateway to the Middle East, and the Middle East’s gateway to Anatolia, the Mediterranean and Europe, Murat Bayram, the head of the parks and recreation department at Hatay Municipality, told Xinhua.
“In this land of diversity, we want to promote green development for cities such as ours and interact with other metropolises of the world,” Hatay Metropolitan Mayor Lutfu Savas said during an inaugural speech.
This event has attracted cooperatives, universities, private companies, and non-governmental organisations from Turkey and abroad.
It will enable cooperation and information sharing on issues like healthy lifestyles, green cities, sustainable living, education, and innovation, according to the mayor.
Filiz Katipoglu, the landscape architect who installed the “Garden of Civilizations,” said that they strived to find a common ground for the plants from different countries and climates to “live in harmony.”
“There is a message of peace and coexistence here for plants and also for people, this is what symbolises Hatay,” she said.
With its warm climate throughout the year and cultural diversity, Hatay was the gate of the ancient Silk Road that opens to the Mediterranean and has been on trade and energy routes for centuries.
Today’s Antakya stands partly on the site of the ancient Antioch, which was founded in the fourth century B.C. by the Seleucid Empire.
Nearby lies the cave church of Saint Peter, one of the apostles of Jesus. The church is considered one of the most ancient in the world.
The city nowadays is also betting on gastronomy tourism for its long-standing past and rich cuisine, stemming from a melting pot of diverse cultures. ■